Kroger, Meijer, Walgreens and CVS locations will all be able to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine for free — as soon as it exists.
Kroger Co. is one of 14 grocery companies included in the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Pharmacy Partnership Strategy, an initiative meant to ensure the eventual vaccine is accessible across the country. HHS announced the partnership Friday.
The current agreement, which includes other large-scale chains such as Walmart, Hy-Vee and Costco, would cover about 60% of pharamacies in the country.
“The vast majority of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a news release.
Vaccines for COVID-19 remain under development, and none have yet been approved for use or distribution. The most encouraging sign in recent days: An announcement from the drug company Pfizer, which claims its vaccine candidate has been 90% effective at preventing the virus in people who have never become ill with it.
The United States’ battle against the virus has become increasingly grim since early October. Daily case totals are spiking across the country, with no end in sight and Congress struggling to arrive at a second stimulus package that would help businesses and families endure a potential new wave of lockdowns.